"It is time for people to realize it's all right to complain," declares customer-relations expert John Tschohl. "They should complain."

Most people don't, usually for one of three reasons:

*They're embarrassed about "making a scene."

*They don't think complaining will accomplish anything.

*They have come to expect bad service and inferior quality.

"In general," says Tschohl, "salespeople should be friendly, courteous and prompt in serving you. They should be attentive, listening to what you say, then acting on your requests and comments. If they don't, complain!"

Tell the salesperson, in a calm voice, what displeases you, he says. "More often than not, the employe will make it right." If not, ask to see the manager.

If you still receive no satisfaction, go even higher -- to the owner or president of the firm -- with a personal visit, telephone call or letter:

*Be specific. "I was given bad service" isn't as effective as clearly spelling out your complaint.

Declare what it is you want, and give the store an opportunity to follow through.

*Be polite; never call people names or use foul language.

People who don't demand excellence in service, says Tschohl, "are saying they're satisfied with less." If you go to a restaurant, for example, get very poor service and still leave a tip, the word you're giving the waiter is, "Give me poor service and you'll still get your money."